How to Eat Thai Nam Prik (Thai Chili Sauce นำ้พริก)

How to Eat Thai Nam Prik (Thai Chili Sauce นำ้พริก)
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Nam prik (or nam phrik, น้ำพริก), Thai chili sauces, are a component of one of the most typical, everyday Thai meals. Check out some of the most common Thai nam prik here:

I think Thai nam prik (น้ำพริก) is one of the most under recognized dishes, or meals of Thai cuisine. There are many different types of chili sauces that you’ll come across in Thailand, some ranging from spicy and hot, other are fish tasting, and others are sweet and sour. Some are more sauce like, others are almost spreadable, and others are more sticky or liquidity. Nam prik (น้ำพริก) is the common name used to refer to all sorts of different chili sauces.

The way you eat nam prik (น้ำพริก) is along with a pile of boiled vegetables, which can included everything from long beans to eggplant, to morning glory. The chili sauces are also eaten with things like fried crispy fish or omelets. Also, a plate of rice is usually included in a full meal of nam prik (น้ำพริก) eating in Thailand. You can either choose to take some vegetables or fish, and dip it straight into the bowl or bag of nam prik, or you can choose to take some fish or vegetables onto your plate and spoon on some Thai chili sauce to get a full range bite of everything including rice. Either way works well, and both methods of eating are equally as popular.

Most of the time, Thai nam prik (น้ำพริก) is seen as one of the most basic and everyday foods in Thailand and it’s available in nearly every market. Most Thais would just drop by their market, order whatever nam prik they’d like, and then vendor will bag it up, along with whatever boiled vegetables and fish they chose, and then the person will head home to eat it. There’s usually never seating. You’ll also find nam prik (น้ำพริก) at nicer restaurants in Thailand where they might serve nam prik as a sort of an hordeavure dish. However, you rarely find a street food stall that serves Thai chili sauces (น้ำพริก) on the street, that also has tables and chairs for you to eat it right there.

I was pretty thrilled to find this Bangkok street food stall that dishes up delicious chili sauces (น้ำพริก) for lunch, and also has chairs for you to sit it. The first thing you do when you arrive is walk up to the front and choose all the vegetables and fish or other items that you’d like and put them on a plate. One of the most popular Thai nam prik (น้ำพริก) is nam prik kapi (น้ำพริกกะปิ), chili sauce made with fermented shrimp paste – it’s such a delicious combination of fishy, salty, sour, and spicy. Along with boiled vegetables and the crispy fish, it was marvelous. I also ordered nam prik da daeng (น้ำพริกตาแดง), translated from Thai as red eye chili sauce. It was less spicy than it looked (it looks on fire), but it had a nice chili flavor, plus a hint of sweetness to balance it out. Finally, for my third Thai chili sauce, I ordered nam prik pla ra (น้ำพริกปลาร้า), chili sauce made with fermented fish sauce. This was also delicious, a little fishy, but with so much depth of flavor. Along with the vegetables and chili sauces, I also ordered a pla too tod (which is a fried mackerel ปลาทูทอด), a couple pieces of pla tod krob (crispy fish ปลาทอดกรอบ), and last but not least cha om kai (an omelet filled with climbing wattle shoots ชะอมไข่).

Again, I think Thai nam prik (น้ำพริก) is one of my favorite parts of Thai cuisine, I love the compound flavors, and of course, the general spice and strong flavors that normally accompany each version. I also really like the vegetables and fried fish that goes with it. So if you’re interested in having a real local Thai meal, you should sample a variety of different Thai nam prik chili sauces.

You’ll find nam prik everywhere in Thailand, but usually for takeaway. If you’re in Bangkok and want to try this place here are the details:
Open hours: 11:30 am – about 3 pm (usually Tuesday – Saturday, but just so you know, this is street food, so sometimes they are closed without warning)
Prices: Our full meal here, everything we ate cost 130 THB (about $4)
How to get there: The stall is located right at the base of Sukhumvit Soi 101 in Bangkok, just a 20 second walk from Punnawithi BTS station exit #1.

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Produced by Mark Wiens and Ying Wiens: &
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About the Author: Mark Wiens